Finding America in Colorado’s Small Towns

This article was inspired by a comment someone left when I was promoting my post about Kevin Torres’ “Storytellers: Small Towns” special on 9News. A reader wrote…

“Small towns are where you can still find America.”

This comment got me thinking.

What does that mean exactly? And do I agree?

The more I thought about it, the more it struck a chord and I think the chord was especially loud because we are in the midst of one of the most revolting campaign seasons that I’ve witnessed. While our voting rights are part of what it means to be American, these politicians do not make me proud to be one.

Traveling across Colorado, however, does make me proud. Inspired by the statement above, I’ve decided to share some of the times I’ve found America in Colorado’s small towns.

The Mayor’s American Moments

Some seem to think that Colorado is all about (and only about) purple mountains majesty. And while our mountains make us special, the small towns scattered across the Eastern Plains are as American as apple pie.

One of my American Moments occurred at Glenn Miller SwingFest this past summer while lying in the grass at Fort Morgan’s City Park under a huge oak tree listening to swing music being played by a local band. Later that evening, as the trees and tractors glowed in the setting sun on Keith Bath Farms, with the Glenn Miller Orchestra playing “In the Mood” behind me in the barn, I thought – this is America.

tractors on Keith Bath Farms in the small town of Fort Morgan, Colorado.
Keith Bath Farms in Fort Morgan, Colorado

Another American Moment is much smaller, but nonetheless it makes the list. Every time we go to Steamboat Springs we stop at a gas station in Walden, Colorado. This isn’t just a gas and bathroom stop, it’s my go-to place for free popcorn. They have one of those table top popcorn makers and if I remember correctly, popcorn is free with a gas fill up, or maybe it’s just free.

The station is always full of travelers and locals, some sitting at tables having coffee and chatting. Depending on the time of year, you may see a hunter pull up with a 700 pound elk strapped to his vehicle – this is America.

Between the small town of Walden, Colorado and Cameron Pass.
Taken through the car window on Hwy 14 between Walden, Colorado & Cameron Pass.

Once, on our way to Southwest Colorado, we were desperately hungry and we stopped at the first restaurant we saw in Poncha Springs. It happened to be an ice cream shop that also served pretty good Asian food – this is America.

I’ve had many, many American Moments in my travels around Colorado’s small towns; from watching burros race in Fairplay to drinking whiskey in the legendary Silver Dollar Saloon in Leadville to chatting with a pastry chef in Georgetown.

Burro Days Parade in the small town of Fairplay, Colorado.
Burro Days Parade in the town of Fairplay, Colorado.

I know that many of HeidiTown’s citizens have also had American Moments and I’d love to hear about them. I encourage you to leave your “this is America” story in the comment section below.




  1. I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Sterling, CO. It was on a buffalo ranch, and after breakfast, we went out with the ranch hands to feed the buffalo. Well, the buffalo are no dummies, and they know the red pick up truck means food. The herd starting running along side the truck on the way to their troughs. It blew my mind. I love Colorado.


    1. That’s an outstanding and VERY American experience, Sharon!!! Thanks for sharing.


  2. I’m a Colorado proud farmer family and I do agree that small towns are still filled with what America was/is built upon. We are always behind the cities, our lifestyles often move much slower and everyone truly does know everyone’s name. I couldn’t ask for anything more (except less politics)!


    1. Thanks for stopping by HeidiTown, Brandy. I love the slower pace of small town life. Two years living in the big city was enough for one lifetime for me!


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